How’s the weather up there?

A few thoughts on the importance of mental health awareness, focusing on this year’s theme, Body Image.

Mental health. It’s a topic we used to be so unwilling to discuss.

Chin up. Stiff upper lip. Sticks and stones.

These used to be words to live by, and do you know what? I’m glad we’re finally doing away with them. Contrary to traditional belief, it actually takes more strength to admit that you’re not doing so well and to seek help than it does to carry on regardless. To admit to feeling vulnerable, to seek out the aid of a fellow human being, takes a great deal of courage.

 

It is, of course, Mental Health Awareness Week, the theme for this year is Body Image. How we feel about our bodies, how we and others perceive the way we look is something that can have a huge impact on our day to day lives.

 

Anyone who meets me will tell you I’m tall. 6’4, to be exact. I’ve heard all the jokes, usually to do with the weather. Some people don’t get creative at all and simply point it out, as though it were something I was unaware of. Now, I can hear you already. “What’s so bad about being tall?” There are some practical considerations. Leg room is often a problem, whether travelling or visiting the theatre. Doorways are often not my friends, and I’ve worked in buildings where I couldn’t actually stand entirely upright without fear of concussion.

 

All that aside, the simple fact is that I don’t like being tall. I never have. I stoop when walking. It’s only recently that I’ve noticed just how much I have been stooping and have taken steps to try and stop. I certainly didn’t realise I’d been doing it. When your physical body requires you to be literally head and shoulders above everyone else but your mind is telling you you’re unworthy of any kind of attention, stooping seems like a natural defence mechanism. In the past few years I’ve come to feel a great deal better about myself as a person, and find that ultimately I’m not slouching as much.

 

The other thing I’m incredibly self conscious about when it comes to my body is hair. I don’t mean the hair on my head, I’m talking about the hair everywhere else. Mostly on my back. You can stuff a pillow with what’s currently growing out my back (I don’t though, that would be weird). This has always made me very unwilling to take my shirt off in public. I’ve never been sure of the reason why, but it used to make me feel so unattractive. Again, in recent years I’ve found it bothering me slightly less and less, but it still remains something I’d deeply like to change about myself.

 

Both these issues, the height and the hair, are things that many people could easily dismiss. “So what, plenty of people have real issues.” Yes, I do see how to some people my feelings could be dismissed as superficial, but that’s a dangerous road. The moment we start dismissing an individual’s concerns about their body image, we open up the possibility of dismissing everyone’s concerns. It’s certainly not a competition. Everyone has something about themselves they’d like to change, and each is just as valid as the last. This is because these concerns matter to the individual themselves.

 

Overall, I am ecstatic that the issues surrounding mental health are something that is finally entering the consciousness of the wider public. I don’t recall discussing it at school. Not once. Nobody would ever ask someone else ‘Are you okay?’ and actually be prepared to hear an in-depth response. Like so many people, I grew up believing that stress was something that happened to other people and couldn’t possibly ever happen to me. I was too strong for that.

 

Well, December 2016 put paid to that little delusion. After months of build up, I found I was breaking down at work and was signed off with stress and anxiety. I have never felt worse in my life. I’d never felt so bad that I would start physically shaking for seemingly no reason. I’d never been so pent up with nervous energy that I couldn’t stand still. Walking into a shop to discuss getting a new phone nearly sent me into a panic attack, causing me to retreat as swiftly as possible. The fact is, mental health difficulties can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime.

 

Talk to people. Ask how they are and mean it. Be prepared to sit and listen. Most importantly, be kind.

 

Oh, and since you asked, it’s raining. This is England.

Don’t Take the Mickey

A blog regarding the importance of generating your own promotional content.

I’d like to recount a small online debacle I recently found myself in. Well, less a debacle, more an oddity. I’m a member of several groups on Facebook, most of them geared towards book promotion. A few weeks ago, I came across a post that caught my eye for all the wrong reasons.

An author, who shall remain nameless, had photoshopped an image of Queen Elsa from Disney’s ‘Frozen’ so that it appeared she was holding up his latest book. I was not alone in pointing out the folly in this. When I looked at some of his other promotional material, I found several other uses of copyrighted images. He was also using classical quotes in several clumsy attempts to somehow link them to his book.

I pointed out that this was not a good marketing strategy and urged him to take down the copyrighted images. He chose to respond, despite having ignored almost anyone else that had commented. At first I was asked if he had upset me somehow. I assured him he had not, and again urged him to take down the copyrighted images. I was then treated to his life story, and got his assurances that a “lawyer friend” of his had told him he could use the images for the purposes of satire.

Now, this just doesn’t stand. Satire does indeed cover the fair use of many images, but not when it comes to promoting a product. I pointed this out and was told that he would take them down, and that ultimately he wouldn’t miss them because he’d just received an award and that was far more important to him. So important, that as of typing this, many of these images are still on his Instagram and Twitter accounts. It became clear that I was dealing with someone who did not understand the fundamental principle of copyright law, nor its penalties. I therefore left him to it.

While it certainly didn’t “upset” me, as he put it, the whole thing did irk me somewhat. As writers, we work hard to create our own worlds and our own material. Certainly we take inspiration from work that has come before us, but to out and out use someone else’s material to promote your book is just plain lazy and idiotic. The same goes for using classical quotes, from Shakespeare no less, and claiming they apply to your work. Writing blurbs and condensing your work into promotional sound bytes is hard, but you’ve got to be prepared to put the effort in.

Since the publication of my first book, I’ve always strived to generate my own promotional content. I consider it a source of pride and a continuing creative challenge. Have I done it alone? Certainly not. My publishers, Austin Macauley, have always been extremely accommodating when it comes to providing me with promotional resources. I’ve also had the great pleasure to work with Ello Dave Media, who have helped me generate great promotional videos. Even when I have knocked up the occasional poster for a one-off event, I made sure that I had the right to use all the images it contained.

That was why I felt so compelled to attempt to reach out to this individual, even though my words fell on deaf ears. All legal issues aside, when you take someone else’s work and use it to promote your own product for your own gain, you are taking advantage of their hard work and putting your own laziness on display. More than that, most potential readers see through such gimmicks straight away. You might get noticed, but it’s not going to get you many sales.

There, rant over. The moral of the story is simple. Don’t steal other people’s stuff.

What Did You Get For Your Birthday?

It is now less than ten days until the release of ‘The Figment Wars: Search for the Caretaker’, my second young adult fantasy novel! I’m involved with a couple of fantastic upcoming acting projects and today happens to be my birthday!

 

If I could just shift this persistent cold, I’d be over the moon! Seriously, I’m *this* close to declaring it ‘man flu’.

 

In all sincerity though, this is a nice little birthday blog where I divest myself of a few musings. If you’re still reading at this point, well, the more fool you.

 

I’ve never been one for making a huge fuss of my birthday. I’ve not thrown a major ‘party’ for my birthday since my 18th (and that I barely remember for reasons you can no doubt fathom for yourself). We usually reserve the big celebrations for those birthdays of apparent numerical value. 18,21, 30 etc. Few will hire an entire hall, a DJ and get specially shaped balloons for somebody’s 32nd birthday.

 

It is something of a double edged sword at times. On the one hand, I might have thrown a huge bash for my 30th because it’s a socially accepted milestone. On the other hand, there’s the “Oh damn, I’m turning 30 and what have I done?” epiphany. I’ve had that feeling, we all have, where we stop to take stock of our lives and that little voice tells us we haven’t done enough. The milestone has come around and we haven’t achieved what we wanted to, and before you know it the next milestone will be upon us and we won’t have finished what we were supposed to have achieved at the previous milestone! Aaaarrgghhh!

 

When I turned 21, I wrote a letter to my 30 year-old self. I put it away safely, never really forgetting the existence of the letter but over time managing to forget the contents. Obviously I opened it two years ago. I’ve never shared the exact contents of the letter with anyone, nor am I about to now so don’t get your hopes up. It was generally full of my hopes and aspirations at the age of 21. A few had been met, a few forgotten about and a few had changed to one degree or another. That’s what life is. Change. What meant the world to you ten years ago might barely register with you today. In short, I am not the same person I was back then.

 

That’s why ultimately I’m glad I’ve never really made too much of a fuss about my birthday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no recluse. I love getting together with the people who are close to me, but that’s the sort of thing we should be doing multiple times a year, surely? As often as possible. Sometimes the only thing we need to celebrate is the fact that we are here and we are together.

 

So, what did I get for my birthday? A year older. I don’t wish to say “and a little wiser”, because ultimately I’m still figuring it all out. Same as everyone else.

 

Besides, it’s a horrible, horrible cliché.

 

 

 

Review: ‘Take Back the Skies’

My review of ‘Take Back the Skies’ by Lucy Saxon.

This is not the usual story of ‘girl disguises as boy to make it in a man’s world’. This is something altogether much bigger.

 

*Be warned, some mild spoilers ahead!*

 

‘Take Back the Skies’ is the first novel in the Tellus series by Lucy Saxon and was published by Bloomsbury in 2014. The second and third installments are currently available. I’ve decided to start at the beginning of the series for my first book review because, not only is the beginning a very good place to start, but this book grabbed me firmly by the insides and twisted (in a good way!).

 

‘Take Back the Skies’ is the story of Catherine Hunter, later known simply as ‘Cat’. The daughter of a high ranking government official, Cat is seemingly destined for a forced and miserable marriage. She decides to take matters into her own hands, disguising herself as a boy and stowing away on a skyship, the appropriately named Stormdancer. She is soon discovered by the crew and is accepted, but her adventures lead to a dark discovery at the very heart of the government.

 

One of the first things that really grabbed my attention about this story is just how early Cat’s disguise as a girl is discovered. I’ve no wish to go into too much detail about the circumstances for fear of spoiling it, but the reveal comes relatively early. This struck me as very refreshing, as it meant that everything Cat does afterwards is as a young woman. Her ideas, her passion and her abilities are accepted by the other characters when they know the truth. This flies in the face of the usual story of girls having to pretend to be men to get ahead and accomplish great things, to then reveal themselves at the end. This was a surprising and welcome departure from such devices.

 

The creation of the skyships, the only means of transport across the storm ravaged seas that lie between the islands that make up the world of Tellus, is a truly brilliant idea. They invoke images of classic adventuring, combining the pioneer spirit with traces of modern technology. The Stormdancer is superbly described, making you feel very much at home as you follow on Cat’s journey.

 

The crew of the Stormdancer consists of the captain, his wife and three young men. As supporting characters they do just that, support Cat in her adventures, yet they are each of them a unique creation that come together to invoke feelings of comradery and family. The antagonist of the story is just as brilliantly created, stoking feelings of revulsion and intense hatred. I won’t go any further into the identity of the villain of this piece for fear of bigger spoilers!

 

Now we come to the gut twisting moment. Without giving too much away, Cat stumbles upon a government plot that involves young children. It is established early on that the Anglyan government has been forcibly recruiting thirteen-year-old children to fight in an ongoing war, but the truth is even more terrible. Cat discovers this truth for herself, and the passages that describe the details were the ones that got to the very core of my being. Without descending to gore, Lucy Saxon creates a situation that is utterly horrifying both for the heroine and the reader. I can honestly say that these are the sort of subtle yet sharp images that make their way into your nightmares. However, I wouldn’t have passed up reading it for the world!

 

‘Take Back the Skies’ is certainly no fairy tale. It has moments of harsh reality that strike the characters hard and fast. Such is life. I always appreciate an author that is prepared to put their characters through such hardships. One of the first rules of story writing is to almost never give your characters what they want. Giving them precisely the opposite is the best way to ensure that your reader is hooked, and Lucy Saxon has achieved that in abundance.

 

Lucy Saxon is a full time author living in Hertfordshire. She is a keen cosplayer and can often be seen on the convention circuit either signing books, displaying her latest costume creation, but usually she does both! I fully recommend ‘Take Back the Skies’, a gripping adventure full of unexpected and gut-punching turns!

 

Check out Lucy Saxon’s website here!

 

 

Research: Into the Minds of Tyrants

My view on how best to manage your approach to research for a new writing project.

Research is something professional writers do. I know, I’ve heard them say so. Trouble is, we don’t all have hours upon hours to pour over endless reams of material. This is why research takes time, and new writers should not be put off by the thought of it.

 

I recently decided to start putting together a new project, something entirely separate from ‘The Figment Wars’. It’s another fantasy, certainly, and some might ask why does a fantasy novel require research? Surely you just use your imagination? That, after all, was the main basis for ‘The Figment Wars’. An entire world populated by figments of human imagination, where the rules are entirely subject to my whim as a writer. The best fantasies, however, have roots in the real world.

 

This new project currently revolves around a key character. A tyrant. A despotic ruler loved by his supporters, loathed by his enemies, feared by both. I wanted to delve into what makes a tyrant. My specific focus at this early stage is how they come to be a tyrant. How they rise to power, how they keep it, and how they usually lose it. It’s a dynamic that has always fascinated me, so before putting finger to keyboard and actually starting this new story, I’ve been busying myself with research.

 

Research isn’t easy when working a full time job, but it can be done. Ultimately it depends on how you learn best. How you absorb information that’s presented to you. This is where my teacher training kicks in and we look briefly at the three main learning styles;

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinesthetic

In a nutshell, it’s what it says on the tin. Visual learners learn best by watching, auditory learners through listening, and kinesthetic learners through doing.

 

I can almost hear my past lecturers and colleagues yelling “It’s not as simple as that, David!” They’d be right, of course. These learning styles often crossover in many people in various combinations, and ultimately everybody takes in information in their own way. It’s rare that anybody favours one learning style entirely above the others. Knowing how you as an individual learn best can be a great tool when it comes to your approach to research.

 

I began my research by finding documentaries on YouTube and iPlayer that pertain to the individuals I wished to learn about. Making time to watch/listen to them isn’t as difficult as you may think. I found I took in a great deal from having them play while I was dealing with a mountain of ironing, or indeed relaxing in the bath. Doing the washing up is another good time to have them on, as it can be surprising what useful nuggets of information seep in while you’re focused on a daily task.

 

Obviously this is not a substitute for more extensive research, but it is a good way to manage your time effectively and help you decide what to focus on. If it hadn’t been for the documentaries I’d listened to while scrubbing lasagna remnants from my plate, I might never have decided to purchase a copy of ‘The Prince’ by Niccolò Machiavelli as my first text of choice on the subject of power. This gradual and well managed approach to research has allowed me to focus better rather than just diving in blindly to a text book that may prove to be of little or no use.

 

In this particular case, researching the origins of various tyrants warrants caution and moderation. I’ve been dipping into the mindsets and actions of the likes of Caligula, Gengis Kahn and Stalin so far, and at this point dipping is all that’s recommended. Dive in the deep end too quickly and you may not be able to come up for air.

 

So, there you have it folks. My little guide to managing your research time. I do hope it’s proved useful. Now, do please excuse me, I’m off to muse on the pursuit of power as seen by a 16th century Italian diplomat considered by many to be the personification of evil.

 

Wish me luck!

 

Why volunteer with the National Trust?

My account of why volunteering with the National Trust is a great experience for everyone!

Time is a precious commodity, and all too often we never seem quite sure of how to use it. The demands we make on ourselves, as well as those made by others, strip away the hours until that deadline you were so determined to make came and went without even so much as a “By your leave”.

 

Managing your creative time can be even more difficult. Time is set aside but if the Muse fails to pay you a visit, you end up with very little to show for what feels like more wasted time. I’d like to take a moment to propose a rather radical remedy for these bouts of writer’s block. It has certainly done wonders for me this past year.

Volunteer at a local National Trust property!

Now do spare me a moment of your time, time that I have already acknowledged to be most precious, and let me explain why giving just a smidgeon of your time a week can be such a tonic.

 

First and foremost, you’ll be helping to support an organisation that works tirelessly to preserve much of our cultural heritage. In many cases there are properties that would not exist in the state they do today without the efforts of the National Trust. Take Dyrham Park, for example.

 

Dyrham
Dyrham Park, photo taken by David R Lord.

By the 1950s, the last owner of Dyrham Park was prepared to strip the house of its contents and demolish the house. Luckily it was instead entrusted to the government, with the National Trust taking over the property in 1961. Since then, extensive renovation work has been underway to restore and maintain the house. Most recently the roof has undergone a significant amount of work.

 

Dyrham Park is the ancestral home of the Blathwayts, built by William Blathwayt from 1692 to 1704. Mr. Blathwayt was a very influential man of his time, holding various positions most notably under King William III. Mr. Blathwayt’s ability to speak fluent Dutch made him a great asset to the King, and Dyrham Park was built mainly while Mr. Blathwayt was away accompanying the King on various matters of state.

 

The house contains an extensive collection of Dutch paintings and Delft china. Indeed, the entire house was so decorated as to impress William III on his much anticipated visit to Dyrham Park. A visit that, sadly, never happened. The story goes that after William III’s unexpected death, Mr. Blathwayt hoped that Queen Anne would instead be making a visit to Dyrham Park. Alas, the Queen allegedly so despised her predecessor that all his favourites were shunned, including Mr. Blathwayt. He retired quietly to Dyrham Park where he died in 1717.

 

By and large, Mr. Blathwayt was forgotten by history. It wasn’t really until the National Trust acquired Dyrham Park and after some extensive research that it became clear just how instrumental Mr. Blathwayt had been in reforming the structure of government and the  civil service in England. This, for the moment, concludes why the National Trust is such a vital organisation that needs our support.

 

Now for the slightly more selfish reasons for volunteering. It is a fantastic source of personal inspiration on so many fronts. You get to work in a beautiful setting, learning as you go. You receive induction training, of course, but the true fountain of knowledge comes from your fellow volunteers. People that you may have never known otherwise, sharing their experiences of life in general and their stories about the property. You are altogether surrounded by sources of inspiration, so long as your senses are open to them.

 

Volunteering at Dyrham Park also greatly appealed to the actor in me, or rather the storyteller. What else is an actor if not a storyteller? Learning so much about the history of a place and the people who lived there brings you into contact with stories that you might struggle to find on the GCSE History syllabus. Not grand events on the world stage, but stories of everyday life, of small events that meant big things for the property. Telling these stories to fresh audiences, potentially every few minutes, made me think a great deal about how I go about telling a story.

 

Considering that my partner and I only first visited Dyrham Park early in 2017, I can honestly say that the place has had a significant impact on my life. We received an e-mail about a Volunteer Open Day and out of sheer curiosity I went along. Before I knew it I had signed up for an interview, soon to be followed by induction sessions and was then allowed to monitor rooms in the house all by myself. Interacting with the public, giving them information about the house and it’s history.

 

In short, volunteering with the National Trust is an altogether unique experience. I recommend it to people of all ages. Even if it is something you only do for a short period, I am convinced it will be worth your time.

The only thing we have to fear …

It’s that time of year! All Hallow’s Eve is upon us. That glorious holiday when fully grown adults go all out on spooky costumes, and cosplayers like myself moan that we have nothing to wear. In all seriousness, I enjoy Halloween more than Christmas. Sure, Christmas makes you feel all warm and fuzzy but at its core, Halloween acknowledges something vital.

 

Fear.

 

It’s a primal necessity hard-wired into our very beings. A natural response to finding yourself in peril. It gets the heart beating and the adrenaline pumping. There’s the fun kind of fear such as the moment you leap out of your seat during a horror movie, then there’s the not-so-fun kind.

 

The fear of the unknown. The fear of what might happen. Not just to ourselves but to our friends and loved ones. That’s why we have things like Christmas, to celebrate what time we have together and to stave off those fears of unforeseen dangers that could overwhelm us on a daily basis given half the chance. For many people those fears come to pass, which makes the bonds of family and friendship all the more vital. We cherish each other in the good times, support each other through the bad. That’s what being a decent human being is, and it’s how we conquer those fears.

 

Then there is another, sub-section of fear that is to be conquered. The kind of fear that holds us back. I touched upon it briefly in my last blog, concerning how frightening it is to hand your creative work over to someone else. It is tempting to keep our creations to ourselves, to hide them away from any criticism, but if everyone did that the world would be poorer for it.

 

The first thing to acknowledge when you create anything, be it a song, a story, a painting, is that not everyone is going to like it. Some will be well versed in the art of constructive criticism, giving you helpful advise on how you can improve your work while drawing attention to what you’ve done well. That being said, there are also those who will just seek to take a big dump on what you’ve done. Nothing constructive, no insight, just a deliberate effort to tear someone down. In this day and age it is usually done anonymously, hiding behind a username and an avatar.

 

Sadly we are never going to live in a world where people don’t do such things. There are those who say that if you can’t take criticism of any kind, you shouldn’t put your work out there in the first place. Don’t go to that audition, the director will hate what you do and tell you so. Don’t submit that story, nobody wants to read it and if they do they’ll hate it. That’s the fear talking.

 

We can encourage people to be kinder by all means, but the truth is there will always be people who just want to tear others down for various reasons. The trick to getting over the fear of criticism is not to silence the critics, but to filter it. Find the constructive and take it on board. Seek out your fellow creatives and share what you have so that we may all grow. Take pride in the courage it took to share your work with the world.

 

Now, that being all said and done, let’s all go eat candy until we’re sick.

 

Happy Halloween!

 

 

“The author’s on set …”

“Which of your characters is your favourite?”

The question I dread being asked the most. It’s very much akin to asking a parent which is their favourite child. Now I know I don’t have children but that’s not the point. The point is that characters spend a long time forming in the mind of the author, often long before any writing has begun. Even then, the characters are growing and changing as the author sets to work. A character is moulded into an individual, with their own wants, drives and fears. You put in a lot of hard work to make them what they are, for better or worse, yet sometimes they seem to take on a life of their own. Very much like being a parent.

 

So, let us skip ahead. The story is written, the characters are all formed, everything is done. It’s scary enough when you hand your work over to someone else to read. All these characters, these scenarios, these twists and surprises have been confined to your mind up until this point. Now you send them off into the wide world hoping people will like them. Again, very much like being a parent.

 

Everyone has their own view of any given character. The words on the page give us guidelines, but even the most intricately crafted character is open to interpretation. How does it feel then, as an author, when you hand over your character to someone for them to actually embody? For them to portray on screen or stage for others to see? I got my first taste of this sensation this past summer, with the creation of the promotional trailer for ‘The Figment Wars: Through the Portals’.

It came about after a conversation with Mr. Rob Creer, the current chairman of Sodbury Players, a fine group that I joined earlier this year. We decided which parts of the book to adapt, cast it and filmed it over two sunny days in Yate and Chipping Sodbury. I was entirely in charge of casting, being happy to leave the intricacies of filming in the capable hands of Mr. Creer.

 

Now of course it’s quite unusual for an author to be given such direct control over who gets to play the characters they created. When books get made into massive, big-budget films, casting ultimately gets put in the hands of various producers. The joy and challenge of doing this adaptation on a smaller scale was having the freedom to cast the piece myself.

 

First of all, it’s worth noting that at no point did I ever plan to take on any particular character myself. I cannot imagine just how blurred the lines between character and creator would become if I had decided to do that. Having nursed these characters in my head for so long, to physically step into their shoes might just cause me to go mad. Nope, better ultimately to trust my creations in the hands of others.

 

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The three main characters, Thomas Llewellyn, his brother Isaac, and their cousin Emily Reed were actually among the last to be cast. Thomas, the story’s main protagonist, was played by Kirk Clifford, while Isaac was played George Pugh. Both are members of the Sodbury Players Youth Section (known as SPYS) and I’d seen them in the SPYS production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ just a few weeks before filming. Particularly with George, watching him on stage I felt an almost otherworldly sense, a voice in my head saying “This kid is your Isaac.” Seeing the way that he and Kirk interacted as a pair of squabbling brothers fighting over a phone (above), I knew that voice was right. Instinct, or divine intervention?

 

Speaking of faith, I took a leap of the same when it came to casting Molly Coventry as Emily, the Llewellyn’s book-loving younger cousin. The character is nine years old so finding someone to play her was always going to be tricky. Initially the plan might have been to cast one of the younger looking girls in the SPYS and suspend disbelief. Then, as chance would have it, I got a message saying that the granddaughter of Stan Ward (who was cast as the Bogeyman) was interested. I’d signed a copy of the book for young Molly some time before at Stan’s request. I cast her quite blindly, schedules being what they were, I wouldn’t be able to meet with her until the second day of the shoot. Considering her lack of experience with filming, she did extremely well and as it turned out, had both read and thoroughly enjoyed the book. She knew the character inside out, bringing across the level-headed demeanour that had always been my intention for Emily.

 

All in all, I could not have asked for a better trio to play these vital characters.

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Now we come to the more unusual characters, and they don’t get more unusual than a Bogeyman. Stan and I had only just recently appeared in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ together. Despite not working together on stage, we spent a great deal of time chatting in the changing room. A vastly experienced actor, he himself did the make up around his eyes after I said the Bogeyman should have a ‘sunken eye’ kind of look. I helped apply the baby lotion to give his face a wet and slimy look.

 

He certainly looked the part, but even more so when the cameras started to roll. He had taken on board what I said about the voice of the Bogeyman being raspy and had ran with it. This vaguely human-like creature, this particular interpretation of the classic Bogeyman, had leapt from my mind and was standing before me. All down to the hard work of one actor taking direction from me, the author. As this was the scene that we filmed first, this was my first taste of how it felt to create a character for a fellow actor to inhabit. That strange but good feeling of sharing something so personal was only to get stronger.

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I entrusted the portrayal of two of the most important and fanciful characters to a pair of actors I’d worked with directly on stage. Simon Carney was to take on the part of Belactacus, a manifestation of organized thoughts and the Librarian to the Library that holds all books.

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Whereas the part of Torvik, a member of the Council of Reality, was to go to Grant McCotter. Both Grant and Simon have a great deal of experience both on stage and in front of a camera, yet to have these great actors turning to me to help get the finer points of the characters across was a feeling unlike any other.

 

We’re always taught that it’s good to share, and it really is. To share something that you’ve created can take a lot of courage. We face possible ridicule and rejection, yet the risk can offer up so many fantastic rewards. This collaboration on those two sunny days was one of the greatest rewards I’ve had so far ever since the book itself was published. To not only see my characters brought to life but to be so closely consulted at every step was an experience not many authors get.

 

Ultimately whenever an adaptation is made from stage to screen, some elements may be changed. Having the author on set might be a nightmare scenario where this is concerned, but not in this case. As an actor I appreciate that film is an entirely different animal to books. The written word may, arguably, allow for more descriptive detail, but on film you have to actually make it happen.

 

Working on this trailer with such a wonderful group of friends was, without a doubt, a fantastic experience. They’ve all been told it often enough, but I’ll say it again now. Everyone involved in this is bursting with talent and I could not be more grateful that they gave their time to this project. A big thank you to you all!

 

The video can be seen and shared on YouTube here.

Facebook page for Ello Dave Media, who filmed the trailer, here.

 

 

First blog post …here we go!

No turning back now!

Well, I’d been threatening to do it for long enough, so here it is! A blog.

I’ll be touching on various topics to do with writing, maybe a dash of acting thrown in here and there as they’re both very close to my heart. They form a symbiotic relationship as far as I’m concerned. One compliments the other.

Although maybe that’s just me.